Skip to content

Interior Lives

September 15 – November 10, 2021

Louis Valtat Coupe verte, oranges et citrons, 1909

Louis Valtat
Coupe verte, oranges et citrons, 1909
Oil on canvas
6 x 10 in.
 

Serge Charchoune Nature morte pointilliste, 1943

Serge Charchoune
Nature morte pointilliste, 1943
Oil on tinted black wood panel
​5.5 x 10.6 in.

Serge Charchoune Untitled, 1943

Serge Charchoune
Untitled, 1943
Oil on board
5.5 x 8.5 in.

Prunella Clough Still Life with Mugs, 1988

Prunella Clough
Still Life with Mugs, 1988
Oil on canvas
30.31 x 25.2 in.
 

Sergio de Castro

Sergio de Castro
L'atelier Gris, 1967
Gouache on paper
20.47 x 24.21 in.
 

Edmund de Waal, Certosa III, 2015
Edmund de Waal
Certosa III, 2015
Porcelain vessels with gilding on wooden shelf, edition 3/3
1.57 x 27.56 x 3.94 in.
 
Serge Férat Nature Morte à la Cafetière à la Guitare, c. 1918

Serge Férat
Nature Morte à la Cafetière à la Guitare, c. 1918
Gouache on paper
8.27 x 12.24 in.
 

Juan Gris, Bouquet de fleurs, early 1920s
Juan Gris
Bouquet de fleurs, early 1920s
Pencil on paper
10.31 x 8.15 in.
Otto Gutfreund Nature Morte, 1920–24

Otto Gutfreund
Nature Morte, 1920–24
Pencil on paper
7.7 x 10 in.
 

Donald Hamilton Fraser Still Life with Mirror, 1975

Donald Hamilton Fraser
Still Life with Mirror, 1975
Oil on Paper
9 x 12 in.
 

Donald Hamilton Fraser Table with Blue Flowers, 1957

Donald Hamilton Fraser
Table with Blue Flowers, 1957
Oil on canvas
30 x 20 in.
 

Marsden Hartley Still Life, Pomegranates, 1927

Marsden Hartley
Still Life, Pomegranates, 1927
Graphite on paper
11.5 x 14.4 in.

Henri Hayden Lejo, c. 1916

Henri Hayden
Lejo, c. 1916
Gouache on paper
15.2 x 11.02 in.
 

Henri Hayden, Still Life with Compote, 1920
Henri Hayden
Still Life with Compote, 1920
Oil and gouache on paper
10.24 x 11.61 in.
Auguste Herbin Nature morte, 1912

Auguste Herbin
Nature morte, 1912
Watercolor, pencil, and charcoal on paper
12.3 x 9.4 in.

Marguerite Louppe Telephone, Newspaper and Vase, c. 1940

Marguerite Louppe
Telephone, Newspaper and Vase, c. 1940
Oil on canvas
28 x 36 in.

Jean Lurçat Nature morte, 1927

Jean Lurçat
Nature morte, 1927
Oil on panel
14.7 x 25.5 in.

Giacomo Manzù Cestino, 1984

Giacomo Manzù
Cestino, 1984
Gilt bronze
19.7 x 13.4 x 6.3 in.

Louis Marcoussis Nature morte cubiste, 1915

Louis Marcoussis
Nature morte cubiste, 1915
Watercolor and gouache on paper
12.2 x 8.7 in

Renato (René) Paresce

Renato (René) Paresce
Natura morta, 1926
Pencil on paper
14.8 x 16.9 in.

Gino Severini Studio per natura morta con violinoI, 1946

Gino Severini
Studio per natura morta con violinoI, 1946
Watercolor on paper
10.6 x 14.5 in

Kenneth Stubbs, Geometric Still Life, c. 1954
Kenneth Stubbs
Geometric Still Life, c. 1954
Casein on paper
8 x 4.5 in.
Kenneth Stubbs Still Life with Pipe and Bottle, 1934

Kenneth Stubbs
Still Life with Pipe and Bottle, 1934
gouache on paper
10 x 16 in.
 

Léopold Survage Nature Morte au Compotier, c. 1919

Léopold Survage
Nature Morte au Compotier, c. 1919
Pencil on paper
8.27 x 8.27 in.
 

Louis Valtat Panneau d'anémones, c. 1915

Louis Valtat
Panneau d'anémones, c. 1915
Oil on cardboard
4.33 x 11.54 in.

Press Release

“I have fallen in love with a painting… I have felt the energy and life of the painting’s will; I have been held there, instructed. And the overall effect, the result of looking and looking into its brimming surface as long as I could look, is love, by which I mean a sense of tenderness toward experience, of being held within an intimacy with the things of the world.”

—Mark Doty, Still Life with Oysters and Lemon [1]

 

The pandemic altered “our intimacy with the things of the world.” These eighteen months have been simultaneously fearsome, tiring, and reflective: global tragedy compounded preexisting inequity; grief has been tempered with what Pamela M. Lee describes as “an atmosphere of collective depletion.”[2] For many of these last months, most of us were at home, becoming newly intimate with our daily, small surroundings.

As we shift into full re-openings and adjust to new waves, our heightened awareness of the ordinary objects of domestic life is fading. Our mental and emotional sightlines are readjusting to scenes beyond our homes, but their recent domiciliary focus provides an opportunity to consider the often-overlooked genre of still life. In their static, unpeopled worlds, still lifes and domestic interiors present “the world minus its narratives or, better, the world minus its capacity for generating narrative interest.”[3] The still life deemphasizes narrative, and thereby the importance of human action. What remains is pure attention, buoyed by subjects made free by their very inanimacy.

Though historically occupying the lowest rung on the “hierarchy of genres,” still life provided both the subject and scene for the innovations of Modernism: from Paul Cézanne to the Nabis, and Cubism to Dada, the easily-identifiable objects of domestic necessity facilitated experiments in representation and the analysis of space. In his foundational text on still life, Norman Bryson wrote that “however vertiginous the painting’s ontology becomes, its play with the shifting modes of illusion is grounded in the familiar reality of tables, cups, and saucers. It is the security and dependability of that routine space which allows the metaphysical transformations to take off and soar.”[4] The familiarity of still life’s inanimate objects enables the artist to relinquish representation, as in Serge Charchoune’s pointillist abstractions from 1943, or Prunella Clough’s monochromatic planar deconstruction in Still Life with Mugs (1988). In this line of thinking, the “subject” of a still life is very much up for debate: the vision of the artist is foregrounded as the objects depicted become both defamiliarized and revived by their representation.

Defamiliarization offers the chance to look anew: still lifes and domestic scenes, absented of the human figure, are small forums on material change, and the period of each work is made evident through style and the subject matter. “We are instructed by the objects that come to speak with us, those material presences,” the poet Mark Doty writes. “Why should we have been born known how to love the world? We require, again and again, these demonstrations.”[5]

 

[1] Mark Doty, Still Life with Oysters and Lemon (Boston: Beacon Press, 2001), 3–4.
[2] Pamela M. Lee, “Introduction: Aspiration Burnout,” October 176 (Spring 2021): 4.
[3] Norman Bryson, Looking at the Overlooked: Four Essays on Still Life Painting (London: Reaktion Books, 2018), 60.
[4] Bryson, 84.
[5] Doty, 10.

Serge Charchoune
Prunella Clough
Sergio de Castro
Willem de Kooning
Edmund de Waal
Donald Hamilton Fraser
Serge Férat
Arshile Gorky
John D. Graham
Juan Gris
Otto Gutfreund
Marsden Hartley
Henri Hayden
Auguste Herbin
Marguerite Louppe
Jean Lurçat
Giacomo Manzù
Louis Marcoussis
Alfred H. Maurer
Renato (René) Paresce
Gino Severini
Kenneth Stubbs
Léopold Survage
Louis Valtat